As the threat of abolition intensified with the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln, Georgia joined other slave-holding states in seceding from the Union to form a new nation, the Confederate States of America. Over the next four years, Georgia witnessed success on the battlefield and devastation in its capital as Sherman marched from the Atlanta campaign to the sea. At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, America had suffered its deadliest war, and the charred remains of Georgia were readmitted to the United States.
K Company, 54th Massachusetts Infantry reenactors Ray Wozniack, James Hayes, and Bob English describe the difficulties faced by black soldiers and their white officers. First they fought for the right to fight when many whites did not want them to take up arms, and then they fought and died for a cause bigger than themselves.
According to Georgia historian Melanie Pavich-Lindsay, the Butler family came to Georgia from South Carolina and eventually amassed plantations and hundreds of slaves on St. Simons Island. Fanny Kemble was very troubled by slavery and wrote of her Georgia experiences in her diary, Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-1839. It became quite famous in Great Britain and northern states for its antislavery message.
Located about 20 miles south of Atlanta, Jonesboro was situated on the Macon & Western railroad, the last link of the supply route into Atlanta. Reenactor Peter Bonner describes the Battle of Jonesboro and had the outcome been different, the course of history may have been changed. Douglas Cubbison, a Union reenactor discusses the toll that bacteria and disease took on all soldiers throughout the war.
According to Tom Hill, curator of the Thomas County Museum of History, the city of Thomasville in southwest Georgia provided the perfect playground for Northerners who profited from the Civil War and looked for a place to enjoy themselves and invest their monies. Jack Hadley, the great-grandson of a slave master and the grandson of a slave, was born at Pebble Hill Plantation and acknowledges that the influx of Northerners to Thomasville benefited both blacks and whites.
War is expensive. In addition to munitions and equipment, soldiers need to be paid for their services—and it was no different during the Civil War. Storyteller Peter Bonner recounts tales of Civil War paydays—payroll deductions, each Southern state printing its own money that soon lost its value, and replaced clothing at the soldier’s expense.
University of Georgia historian Emory Thomas, reenactor J.C. Nobles, and Marty Willett, a historic interpreter at the Jarrell Plantation in Jones County explain Gen. William T. Sherman's March to the Sea, where Union soldiers were under orders to forage liberally and live off the land as they marched from Atlanta to Savannah.
During the Civil War, both sides had terrible prison camps, but one particular Georgia camp has become synonymous with inhumane treatment. Fort Sumter outside the town of Andersonville housed 30,000 prisoners in a facility designed for 10,000. Union reenactor Mark Stivitz and World War II POW and Andersonville National Historic Site volunteer Bob Windham describe the filthy conditions and wonder how Americans could possibly treat one another like that.
Bruce Hetherington at Oglethorpe University and Dr. Frances Harrold at Georgia State University explain that after Union ships enforced a blockade of Southern ports and harbors during the Civil War, Atlanta grew as a result.
To deter Union shelling of the city of Charleston in 1863, South Carolina brought Union prisoners into the city as targets. In response, Union leaders sent 600 Confederate prisoners to Morris Island within site of the city where Union artillery was located. After a prisoner exchange, 600 more Union prisoners to deter shelling in 1864. Again in response, the Union brought 600 Confederate prisoners. The cruel treatment of these men was retribution for the treatment of Union prisoners at Andersonville.
John Gilbert takes students on a tour of the Big Shanty Museum (now renamed The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History) and reveals that the Civil War was known as the railroad war because battles were fought up and down the rail lines. Dr. Gene Hatfield, a historian, recounts how repairing destroyed railroad tracks was mostly done by African American men. Folklorist Maggie Holtzberg explains the rhythmic singing and movements they used to move heavy track. Lesa Campbell of the Southern Railway Museum discusses how travel and transport has changed over time.
Humans first arrived in the region we today call Georgia more than eleven thousand years ago. They developed systems of governance, economic sustainability, and cultural spirituality. As groups became more sophisticated, traditions and customs were passed along to preserve a unique heritage.
Citizenship and America’s federal government are surveyed, discussing the constitutional system of government in both a national and state context, and the many facets of our political system — including...
The period encompassing the decades before the Civil War shows two distinctly American societies diverging both economically and ideologically. As the North grew into an industrial powerhouse, it continued to benefit from the South’s primarily agrarian system, built on a foundation of forced labor. These profoundly different cultures and perspectives would eventually clash in the War Between the States.